The gun control bill publicly endorsed by Bill Gates passed with 60 percent of the vote in Washington State. The new law will require Washingtonians to go through a background check when purchasing firearms in all situations, ending loopholes for avoidance like buying at gun shows. Bill and Melinda Gates donated $1 million dollars through their foundation to push the bill, but the biggest factor may have been the Marysville public school shooting just weeks before the elections.
The proposal was labeled I-594, and the Los Angeles Times called it the toughest background check law in the nation. The law will require universal background checks for all firearm purchases and transfers, including gifts, loans, and gun show sales with a few notable exceptions, such as gifts within the family.
As previously reported by the Inquisitr, I-594 had big money backing from Washington’s high-tech crowd including Bill Gates, Microsoft co-founder Paul Allen, and venture capitalist Nick Hanauer. Michael Bloomberg’s Everytown for Gun Safety also donated $4 million. The bill’s supporters had over $6 million, and the push-back from pro-gun rights seemed feeble by comparison.
According to the Huffington Post, the NRA pledged $450,000 to defeat the gun control bill, saying it was like something out of Nazi Germany. Gun rights groups sponsored their own ballot initiative that would have made the Bill Gates-funded I-594 impossible to enact. That measure was defeated with 56 percent of voters against.
In a move that made headlines, one pro-gun advocate, Alan Gottlieb, challenged Gates to a debate over I-594, but Bill declined any response.
He really didn’t need to debate, since as early as July, 70 percent of voters were in support of new control measures.
Regardless of the merits of the I-594, Bill Gates’ and others big money donations raised concerns about the influence of money in politics. Usually, the NRA is under fire for overpowering big money campaigns, but it’s hard to beat the techie crowd. The Daily Beast noted that the situation wasn’t ideal.
“Sure, in an ideal world big money wouldn’t play such an outsize role in our elections, such as this hugely important ballot initiative in Washington state. But that’s not what the NRA wants. It just wants its big money still to be all that decides the outcome, and it isn’t.”
Still, after the tragic incident in Marysville, Washington, Bill Gate’s money may not have been needed at all. On October 24, a student, Jaylen Fryberg, shot and killed four classmates and injured others in the Marysville-Pilchuck High School cafeteria before taking his own life.
Although the stricter background checks in I-594 would not have prevented the shooting — the gun was legally purchased and registered by Jaylen’s relative — the incident reminded Washingtonians of the dangers of firearms in the wrong hands.
Regardless of the circumstances, Bill Gates’ foundation can count at least one victory in this election cycle.
[Image Credit: Steve Jurvetson/Wikimedia Commons]